Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The End...

... for now.

Ok, ok, my mom keeps telling me I need to tell people I'm home.  So....

I'm home.

And by that I mean,


I'm enjoying the variable temperatures of a Midwest summer.  No sweating in the sun today!  And the company of friends and family.  And the hot showers.  And the mold-free clothes.  And the food!

Panama has become a very special place to me over the last few years.  And as much as it was sad to leave, I'm ready for the next chapter.  I loved it and hated it.  I learned a lot from it's people and landscapes and creepy crawlies.  I laughed a lot and cried a lot.  I failed.  Often.  I also succeeded.  I celebrated.

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer, you are always meeting new people and saying goodbye to old ones.  There is a constant flow of awesome individuals and close friends that come and then inevitably go.  Like it or not, you get a lot of practice at goodbyes and after a while they get less sad, believe it or not.  :)

"We think often about these lively and indelible friendships, and what, if anything, we ever did to deserve them; the luck of getting to find out together who we really were in a strange land, among strange people who asked only that we express a joyful and common humanity."
-Peter Leo RPCV Kenya 1969

Peace out, Panama!  It's been real.

Dandy Lions

The Inconveniences of Modern Living

It turns out that refrigerators aren't magic.  Things still mold if you leave them in there long enough!

These used to be pineapple slices....

El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton is a town in the province of Cocle.  The city is built in the caldera of an old volcano up at about 600 meters.  A friend and I took a mini vacation there before I headed to the city.  We hiked up to the top of one of the hills in town to see what we could see.

Now for the cool part.  Ok, I thought it was cool at least.  I recently wrote about how the volunteers on the west side of the country can get to the top of a ridge and can see peaks off in the distance and identify where other volunteers live.  The mountains aren't so high in Cocle so that was only something we could do with our closest neighbors... until we went hiking at El Valle!

Looking out to the west I could see the wind turbines behind Penonome and then I saw that distinct pointy little mountain on the right and thought that must be near where Brandon used to live.  So then I started looking for something more familiar to me.  The mountain is Orari and it was one that always stood out on the horizon from my community.  
This is a picture of it from where I lived.

With a little looking, I found it!  Which means that my community was in the small mountain range below the red circle.  It looks so tiny from up there!

And finding that let me do this!
We lived over there.


My friends Kelly and Pete hosted a basketball camp in their community at the end of May to inaugurate their new basketball hoops.  Little did we know before arriving that the weekend also marked their 5th wedding anniversary.

That's the kind of teamwork that marriages thrive on!

 We taught the kids the basics of basketball and then let them go WILD.  Literally!  We realized after starting the first game that we never addressed double dribbling and didn't explain that full court press is not a necessity, but hey, we had to leave something for Day 2, right?

Kelly posted more photos and a description of the camp on her blog at: http://lifeonalog.blogspot.com/2014/06/special-break-basketball-camp.html

See You in Heaven

Last month, I was making my last visits to communities I had worked in this spring.  They asked when I was leaving my city and then the country, trying to figure out if I would be stopping by again.  I told them no, unfortunately I wouldn't be.  Knowing that I just worked with them briefly, if I visited Panama in the future, I probably wouldn't head there.  They said all of the normal "may God bless you"-s and then one man said, "well, I guess then I will see you in Heaven."  That seemed like an honest and reasonable statement so fifteen people followed suit and shook my hand, wished me success in my future endeavors and then said, "See you in Heaven."  It ended with a nice old Ngabe woman who took my hand and said something in Ngabere that we both knew I didn't understand.  So I politely smiled and chuckled.  She returned my smile and simply pointed at the sky.

It's not goodbye, just see you later.
Maybe a lot later.
(Hopefully a LOT later!)